J Virol 2007 Feb 22;81(4):1912-22. Epub 2006 Nov 22.
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for AIDS Research and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.
The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8) is associated with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) as well as primary effusion lymphomas (PEL). The expression of viral proteins capable of inactivating the p53 tumor suppressor protein has been implicated in KSHV oncogenesis. However, DNA-damaging drugs such as doxorubicin are clinically efficacious against PEL and KS, suggesting that p53 signaling remains intact despite the presence of KSHV. To investigate the functionality of p53 in PEL, we examined the response of a large number of PEL cell lines to doxorubicin. Two out of seven (29%) PEL cell lines harbored a mutant p53 allele (BCBL-1 and BCP-1) which led to doxorubicin resistance. In contrast, all other PEL containing wild-type p53 showed DNA damage-induced cell cycle arrest, p53 phosphorylation, and p53 target gene activation. These data imply that p53-mediated DNA damage signaling was intact. Supporting this finding, chemical inhibition of p53 signaling in PEL led to doxorubicin resistance, and chemical activation of p53 by the Hdm2 antagonist Nutlin-3 led to unimpaired induction of p53 target genes as well as growth inhibition and apoptosis.